Home DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT Florence, Italy: A Memorable Experience
Florence, Italy: A Memorable Experience PDF Print E-mail

Guest Senior Travel Writer PCO’B, Chicago IL. Of all our traveling experiences, Florence (Firenze) is our favorite in many ways.

The sparkling city hasn't changed much in the past 400 years, and strives to be the most welcome in Italy. As I gazed at the famed statue of David in the Accademia Gallery, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Michelangelo there. Even though the sculpture is perfect, he’d probably want to add a few extra chisel strokes. I admired the other glorious landmarks: Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) over the Arno River. There’s also the Medici Family Chapel, Santa Croce, the Uffizi Gallery and countless other delightful sights.

I still treasure a fond memory of a personal experience in Florence. Our tour group gathered in front of the Duomo, a magnificent 14th Century church in the Piazza. It was long past noon, and I was getting hungry for some of Florence's famed Italian food.

While listening to a boring lecturer, I noticed a group of Chinese-American tourists follow an English-speaking guide. He announced that he was taking them to one of the best non-tourist restaurants in the city. Interested, I sneaked away from my group and followed them.

With visions of authentic ravioli and linguine dancing in my head, I followed the guide and guests down one narrow street and up the other. Finally, he stopped at a small door with the word ristorante on it. We went through a dark entrance and into a dimly-lit café.

The guide had sent the food order in advance, and when we were seated, waiters came marching in carrying steaming trays of food. I could almost smell the first course, delicious Italian Zuppa Toscana. But the odor was different, and I saw it was won ton soup! In honor of the Chinese visitors, the Florentine restaurant had prepared an authentic Chinese dinner!

After the initial shock, I didn't really mind. I love Chinese food, and the Italian chefs did a magnificent job of preparing it as well as any upscale Chinese chef could. I figured ... what the heck ... and dug in with my newfound friends.

An hour later, after I sneaked back to join my tourist group, we were taken to a nice Italian restaurant. Although the food was good, the other tourists wondered why their smiling companion just picked at the wonderful local delicacies.

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